Jane Jacobs, 1958: “Downtown is for People.”

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It’s an essay by Jane Jacobs written in 1958, and worth revisiting at regular intervals. First, for those just tuning in

Jacobs is credited, along with Lewis Mumford, with inspiring the New Urbanist movement. She has been characterized as a major influence on decentralist and radical centrist thought.

Jacobs wrote a seminal book.

The Death and Life of Great American Cities is a 1961 book by writer and activist Jane Jacobs. The book is a critique of 1950s urban planning policy, which it holds responsible for the decline of many city neighborhoods in the United States. Going against the modernist planning dogma of the era, it proposes a newfound appreciation for organic urban vibrancy in the United States.

Here’s the magazine article preceding the book.

Downtown is for People (Fortune Classic, 1958), by Nin-Hai Tseng (Fortune)

… There are, certainly, ample reasons for redoing downtown–falling retail sales, tax bases in jeopardy, stagnant real-estate values, impossible traffic and parking conditions, failing mass transit, encirclement by slums. But with no intent to minimize these serious matters, it is more to the point to consider what makes a city center magnetic, what can inject the gaiety, the wonder, the cheerful hurly-burly that make people want to come into the city and to linger there. For magnetism is the crux of the problem. All downtown’s values are its byproducts. To create in it an atmosphere of urbanity and exuberance is not a frivolous aim.